|The first German families that settled in the north
part of Clear Creek Township came across the ocean with father's
friend, John Blaise Sr. who brought along his three oldest boys
and two oldest daughters, to-wit:- Theodore Blaise, the only one
living now in Lancaster township, John Blaise, Fritz Blaise,
Kate Blaise and Eva Blaise. Mr. John Blaise bought property,
principally timber land, from Caspar Klett, near Garibaldy in
Mr. Michael Berg, Wendell Horras and Paul Peiffer
settled on the west side of the creek in the north part of the
township. Mr. Berg on section 4- Wendell Horras and Peifer took
the whole section, 9, on beautiful prairie but scarce in timber.
These three families had their share of hardships
and experience of early settler life. The fall of 1847 kept
them busy to prepare for winter, then to make rails for fencing.
Not having the experience of woodcraft, the isolated black oak
trees, that had with stood ages of prairie fires, proved
veritable Port Arthurs to their attacks. Experienced men had to
do an immense amount of hard pounding to even make fifty rails
per day out of this kind of timber. It took 4480 ten-foot rails
and 1280 eight-foot stakes to fence a 40 acre lot good, then the
hauling, equal to 115 cords of wood, was no child's play for a
The next season, in the fall every one of them had
malarial fever except Mr. Michael Berg, who had had his share
coming up the Mississippi on a steamer. So much so, that he was
compelled to stop off at Burlington with the other families.
In the meantime the old gentlemen Blaise, Horras and
Peiffer came to see mother and ascertain how near the
description and prospects for settling, which I, as a twelve
year old, had written home after father's demise, were correct.
When the party returned with teams to move their families and
on hearing their report induced Mr. Berg to cast his lot with
them. His original intention was to locate in Wisconsin near a
brother of his. So Mr. Berg came to be our nearest and dearest
Having been raised in the old country on a large
rented estate, he had become an expert in raising and feeding
horses. Many a valuable lesson in stock raising I learned from
his instructions. He also proved a Good Samaritan, when not one
of his neighbors was able to even carry water for the sick.
Then came a very wet season. The Skunk River ruined
the mill property. The winter of 1849 proved the severest we
have experienced in our long residence in Iowa. These three
neighbors with a team endeavored to break a road to the mill and
came very near loosing some of their best cattle, floundering in
the snow and, had to give it up, returned and spent part of the
night nursing their overtaxed stock. Old man Wendell Horras,
Sr. can yet remember that trip. After these severe trials,
their children having grown to be able helpers, their fields
enlarged, all were prospering and happy looking for a brighter
future and so reported to their different friends in the
When Mr. Blaise returned to Germany to dispose of most of his
real estate there, which he had left unsold, his wife and three
children of school age staying, there on account of these
advantages, people from far and near came to hear the reports
verified by an eye witness. Then preparations were made to emigrate to the land were milk
and honey flowed.
With the return of Herr Blaise came Lorenz
Adrian, Grandpa Merschaand one Herber and several others. On
this trip Mr. Blaise lost his wife at or near New Orleans. One
of the grandest, noblest women of our old country, a great loss
which caused the disbanding of a once great and happy family.
So near the end of their long journey like Moses of old, she
did not get to see her Cannaan her older children. She was
taken with the cholera. This was in 1852.
These families, Berg, Horras, Peiffer and Kramers were
Catholics. Rev. Father Michels from West Point in Lee County
came up and after given some instructions gave one-half dozen of
their children their first holy communion at the residence of
Then in 1853 and 1854 came Jacob, Peter and Michael Becker,
Henry, John and Joseph Stein, Wallerick, Engledinger, Olinger,
Trierweiler, Kiefer, Wehr and others. All of these were heads
of large families. "Race suicide" was unknown to them. These
families would have been an inspiration even to a Roosevelt.
The new emigrants for several years made their Rendezvous at Mr.
Berg's, some at Horras' and a good many at Paul Peiffer's until
they had located. There never was a charge for the
accommodation and assistance; such were the social customs of
that time. All of these emigrants brought more or less ready
cash and settled as near to each other as possible. This
created a boom in the price of land and stock.
cabin was erected for a temporary church.
Then came an emigrant movement from Wisconsin; and Michigan,
Conrads, Vogels, Curts, Voetgle, Fritchen and several Griener
families. These parties bought out settlers west and east of
In 1855 a brick church was built which was replaced in 1899 by a
more commodious building through the efforts of Father Ragger
and the willing help of the Clear Creek congregation.
About 1852 or 1853 another valuable German emigration located in
the west part of this township ort the west branch; William,
August and Fred Goeldner and their uncle Ben Goeldner, John
Goeldner, Ben Kerr, Naumann, Pimme, all of these men were from
another part of Germany, Saxony, and of the Protestant
persuasion, all first class emigrants. Full 90 percent of Clear
Creek township are German descendants of the above named early
Right here I want to make a point by claiming that father was
the pathfinder, together with Herr John Blaise. They discussed
the prospect of the three western territories- Iowa, Illinois
and Missouri. Father finally decided on this, then the new
In 1853 the Reinhart family arrived, consisting of old man
Reinhart, his son John, a son-in-law, Mr. Felz, a widowed
daughter who married Mr. Varain, there also came along John's
friend, a Mr. Rondee, the best landscape painter of his day.
This man and a prominent and wealthy count, whose name I did
not learn, had traveled all over Mexico and some of South
American territory, spending a large fortune in obtaining
sceneries; big chests full of sketches of this new world, to
present to the then King Phillip of France and the French
Academy of Art. In return for this service he had given Rondee
and the count a land grant of several counties of valuable land
in some of the French possessions but before their titles were
approved by the ministry, King Phillip was dethroned and
Rondee's valuable land grant became null and void. A gold medal
was presented to him by the Academy of Art, I have seen it. It
was of large size with the inscription of his merits, its value
in gold, about $190 and the satisfaction of having traveled in
the far west was about all he had to console him for his loss.
I frequently met Rondee at Herr John Blaise's. He was a highly
cultured gentleman, a fine linguist, spoke fluently several
languages and was a most excellent narrator. The Mexican
government had sent escorts from a squad of 20 to 100 soldiers
with them and as French gentlemen this cost them piles of money.
When the Rock Island ran their first train into Washington, the
Dutch Creek delegation, with John Reinhart and Rondee in the
leading wagon. The artist Rondee made a sketch of it so life
like, that I could recognize several of the leading men in that
crowd. John Reinhart sent this sketch to the Harper's Bros.
Illustrated Weekly of New York and in answer they said, they
were sorry they were unable to do it justice as facsimile. But
even then I thought it a great picture in a newspaper. Rondee
soon after this returned to France. Reinhart moved to the town
of Washington and soon became an eminent and wealthy lawyer.
Reinhart visited France in 1872 met his friend Rondee and on
his return told me, Rondee had a fine position and was